Category Archives: Visiting Speakers

Social Justice Scholar Marcella Runell Hall to Present MLK Day Keynote

The Mount Holyoke dean will talk about social justice storytelling
Courtesy of
Courtesy of

A social justice scholar and noted author will present the keynote address at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day assembly at the Williston Northampton School on Monday, January 18.

Marcella Runell Hall, the dean of students at Mount Holyoke College, will present “Storytelling for Social Justice,” which will encourage students to define the term “ally,” explore what it means to have multiple social identities, and practice the power of storytelling.

Dr. Hall is the author of three award-winning books: “The Hip-Hop Education Guidebook: Volume 1,” with Martha Diaz; “Conscious Women Rock the Page: Using Hip-Hop Fiction to Incite Social Change;” and “Love, Race, and Liberation: ‘Til the White Day Is Done” with Jennifer “JLove” Calderon.

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Kate Nocera ’01 Presents Cum Laude Keynote

The former political reporter offered advice on the dos and don'ts of a successful career

23855136824_b5fee16222_zThere was a point during Kate Nocera’s time at the Williston Northampton School when it was doubtful that she would even graduate.

In her keynote address for this year’s Cum Laude Ceremony, Ms. Nocera, a former political journalist, talked about how she went from a fixture in the Dean of Student’s Office, to accepting her diploma with Cum Laude honors.

“My actual favorite memory from Williston was being at graduation and hearing them calling the names of the Cum Laude inductees, and hearing my name among them,” Ms. Nocera recalled.

The Cum Laude ceremony, which honors 12 seniors who have excelled academically, was held on Friday, January 16, at 8:30 a.m. in the Phillips Stevens Chapel.

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How to Create an Animated TV Pilot

Award-winning Director Chris Perry Will Talk to Williston Students About His Newest Show
Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

An award-winning screenwriter, director, and producer—who created CG fire for Pixar and won a technical Oscar for animation software behind “Life of Pi”—will talk about his creative process with students at the Williston Northampton School on Monday, December 14.

Chris Perry, a former Williston parent, will walk students through a show that’s currently in development. The yet-to-be-named animated adventure, set on a future Earth where evolution has gone bananas, was created with help from the Williston Theatre program. (Mr. Perry notes that some of animated characters are voiced by Williston students.)

Mr. Perry and members of his crew will share how they’ve taken the show from a fledgling concept to a fully realized test. The presentation will touch upon writing, voice acting, design, film, animation, and the business of producing a TV series. A Q&A will follow.

“I hope our students get some insight into how a TV pilot (in this can an animated one) gets produced, shopped around, etc.,” noted Director of the Williston Theatre Emily Ditkovski in an email. “Looks like it will be really fun.”

Mr. Perry is a professor at Hampshire College and the founder of Bit Films, an independent studio in Western Massachusetts. He has over 20 years of film experience, including as a programmer and generalist technical director in VFX and feature animation. Mr. Perry has an M.S. degree from the MIT Media Laboratory and an M.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Any Williston students and interested Williston parents are welcome to attend this presentation, which will take place in the Williston Theatre. Please contact Ms. Ditkovski with questions.

Writers’ Workshop Presents John Katzenbach

The master of psychological suspense will delve into dark issues
John Katzenbach. Photo by Nancy Doherty
John Katzenbach. Photo by Nancy Doherty

Justice. Obsession. Revenge.

Author John Katzenbach will delve into these and other deliciously dark themes when he returns to the Williston Northampton campus on November 9 for the final installment of the 2015 Writers’ Workshop Series.

During the free and public lecture, Mr. Katzenbach will speak about his forthcoming book, The Dead Student, which includes a character he describes as “one of the most interesting bad guys I’ve ever created.”

“He’s a killer with a plan, and a belief that everything he’s done is totally, utterly justified,” Mr. Katzenbach notes on his website. “And not a bad guy, except that he seems to kill people.”

Originally a criminal court reporter for the Miami Herald and Miami News, Mr. Katzenbach published his first novel, In The Heat of Summer, in 1982. Since then, he’s published 12 other novels, including The Traveler, Day of Reckoning, What Comes Next, and Red 1-2-3.

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Writers’ Workshop Presents Debra Monroe

Debra Monroe
Debra Monroe

During her last visit to the Williston Northampton School in 2010, Debra Monroe talked about her moving memoir, On the Outskirts of Normal, the unsentimental story about a white woman who adopts a black baby in small town Texas.

Ms. Monroe’s latest memoir finds her reaching even farther back into her history for a tale that’s both arresting and full of wit and poise. On November 3, she returns to Williston for the 2015 Writers Workshop Series, where she will discuss My Unsentimental Education, the story of her journey from the working class in Spooner, Wisconsin to the professional class in Austin, Texas.

As with all lectures in the series, Ms. Monroe’s talk is free and open to the public and will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Dodge Room, Reed Campus Center.

Ms. Monroe, who teaches at Texas State University, has written The Source of Trouble, which won the prestigious Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction; A Wild, Cold State, a book of stories; and the novels Newfangled and Shambles. In 2010, she published her first memoir, which focused on her experiences with her daughter in a small Texas town.

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